You must be living an extremely insulated life if you haven’t heard of all the controversy that the birth and death of the so called European Super League brought about. In a nutshell, 12 of the top european football teams, that have all suffered greatly from revenue reductions brought about by the pandemic, decided to create a private European football league, to solve the financial difficulties they are in thanks to the support and pre-financing of JP Morgan. There are several lessons here to be learnt for business owners and business leaders. This case shows that no one is exempt from erring big time, basing oneself on a hugely myopic way of seeing things.
I will thus try to list a few lessons that I believe are so relevant for business owners and business leaders.
- Risk Management: It was obvious prior to the pandemic that some (not all) of europe’s top football clubs where operating on a business model that assumed that everything would go well. That gate money will keep increasing, that income from TV rights will keep increasing, that income from merchandising will keep increasing….and so on. Whilst a certain level of risk taking is always needed, taking risks to a level where you cannot afford that anything goes wrong, means that your stakes are definitely too high.
- Stakeholders: No matter how big you are you need to make sure you know the external environment you operate in and the stakeholders that can be affected by what you do. Businesses that focus on their internal issues and ignore what is happening around them, what competition is up to, what clients think about them…do that to their great peril. The old idea that shareholders or business owners can just do whatever they want with their business is in my view an outdated view. In the era of social media, power has shifted to clients and other stakeholders.
- Laws, Rules and Regulations: It is a free market alright, but even a free market has laws, rules and regulations to abide with. Make sure you know that whatever you do in your business it has to abide by laws, rules and regulations.
- Values: The more things get complex, the more you need to let the values of your business guide you. What are the real values of your business? Just to make money? Clients that see that all you want is to skim the cream will likely turn you down. Making money needs to be a by product of what you want to do. A football team’s values should be of winning within the parameters of fairness and hard work, where meritocracy means that even a small team can beat a bigger team.
The flop of the European Super League does not mean that all the problems of Europe’s football have vanished. Professional football teams together with UEFA face a tall order to make sure that football in europe is backed up by transparent and sustainable operations. However, the European Super League fiasco means that no problem, no matter how big and urgent, can be solved by ignoring the above.